DCRP Review: Pentax Optio A10
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The Optio A10 ($350) is an ultra-compact 8 Megapixel camera with Pentax's new Shake Reduction system. While some image stabilization systems shift an element in the lens, the SR system actually moves the CCD sensor around for the same effect. A similar system was used in cameras developed by Konica Minolta.
Other features on the A10 include a 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, and a VGA movie mode that uses the DivX codec.
The ultra-compact camera arena is very competitive. Read our review to see how the A10 measures up to the competition.
What's in the Box?
The Optio A10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
As is the case with so many cameras this year, the Optio A10 has memory built right into the camera in lieu of a bundled memory card. Pentax gives you 24MB of onboard memory, which will hold just seven photos at the highest image quality setting. With that in mind I highly recommend buying a memory card right away. The A10 uses Secure Digital (SD) memory cards, and I'd suggest a 1GB card as a good starter size. I noticed some improvements in performance when using a high speed memory card, so it's probably worth picking up one.
The A10 uses the familiar D-LI8 lithium-ion battery. This compact battery holds 2.6 Wh of energy, which is about as low as you'll find. As you'd expect, that translates into pretty lousy battery life. Here's a look at that:
As you can see, the A10 turns in lower than average battery life numbers. This is one camera where you'll definitely want to buy a spare battery.
Speaking of which, here's my usual speech about proprietary batteries like the one used by the Optio A10. First, they're expensive -- $35 a pop. Secondly, you can't use off-the-shelf batteries when your rechargeable dies like you could on a camera that uses AA batteries. Then again, you won't find super-thin cameras that use AA batteries.
The Optio A10 comes with a rather unique battery charging cradle. Just pop the camera into the dock and the battery will charge (inside the camera) in about 100 minutes. You can also take the battery out (or charge a spare) and charge it in the back portion of the dock (see photo). I don't believe that you can charge two batteries simultaneously, though.
If you want a more traditional external charger then you should check out the Pentax K-BC8, which is priced at around $40.
As is the case with all ultra-compact cameras, there's a built-in lens cover on the A10, so there's no clunky lens cap to worry about. As you can see, this is a pretty small camera.
There are just a few accessories available for the Optio A10. For those who want to control the camera remotely, there are two wireless remotes to choose from. Remote Control E lets you operate the zoom, while Remote Control F is just a shutter release. If you want to power your camera without draining your batteries then you'll want the K-AC8 AC adapter ($43). Other accessories include your choice of camera straps plus a camera case.
ACDSee 1.6 for Mac
Pentax includes ACD Systems' ACDSee software with their Optio cameras. Mac users get version 1.6, which is very basic. In fact, it's basically just an image viewer -- you can't do any editing. If you've got a Mac, then you're better off using iPhoto.
ACDSee 6 for Windows
Windows users get ACDSee 6, which is much better than the Mac version. Not only can you view photos, but you can create slideshows, layouts for printing, web galleries, and much more. Photos can be quickly rotated, cropped, resized, and e-mailed.
ACDSee 6 for Windows
ACDSee 6 also has editing capabilities, letting you adjust exposure, color, sharpness, and noise. You can apply effects to your photos and a reduction reduction tool is also available.
In conclusion, the Windows software is very competitive with the software bundled on other cameras, but the Mac version is severely lacking.
The manual that came with the Optio A10 is just average. While it's got plenty of detailed information, it's definitely not the most user friendly manual I've seen.
Look and Feel
The Optio A10 is a compact and stylish silver metal camera. It's well put together for the most part, though the plastic tripod mount and flimsy door over the memory card/battery compartment leave something to be desired. Controls are logically laid out, and the important buttons are easy to reach. Using the camera with one hand is not a problem.
Here's a look at how the A10 compares to other ultra-compacts in terms of size and weight: